Grannie's Tomato 'Gravy'





Introduction: Grannie's Tomato 'Gravy'

About: Designer. Thinker. Doer. Hiker. Lover.

The confluence of two life forces - a move to San Francisco and marrying into an Italian family - got me thinking a lot about tomatoes and tomato sauce, or as my husband's great-aunt calls it: gravy. Prior to meeting these spirited folks, gravy only meant a sauce to go with meat ;-)

Tomato season in the Bay Area is terrific. Tomatoes have flavor! They're amazing! My favorite? Mariquita Farm's Early Girl tomatoes.

Making your own sauc--erh, I mean gravy-- is pretty easy and a nice yearly tradition. A few nifty gadgets make light work of it. I'll share my favorite recipe, but feel free to experiment and make it your own.

Step 1: Find Your Ingredients

If you'd like, you can follow this Instructable for tips and tricks to modernize an old family favorite. Here's the heirloom recipe I use:

1 large yellow onion, sliced very thinly
4 cloves of garlic, sliced very thinly
1 tsp dried chili flakes
1 cup dry red wine
3-4 pounds early girl tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

Step 2: Prep Your Produce (with a Foodmill)

I'm a big fan of my Kitchenaid mixer and this attachment really streamlines the gravy-making process. I've done this before where I've crushed the tomatoes by hand over the pot. It's fun. As the pot starts to bubble, splatters can shoot out so I slightly prefer this method. As an added bonus, this attachment separates the thick and thin parts of the tomato. I used this to make thin and thick tomato sauce/gravy and it's better great. Thin works better on pasta, thick is great for pizza. I like it.

Chop your onion, measure your spices, and pour out a cup'o'wine. Or don't measure. That seems to be the more Italian approach ;-)

Oh, and the mixer attachment is awesome. It can make a mess if you do it the fun way! My method is very mess-forward, but not entirely the mixer's fault.

Step 3: Prep Your Produce (without a Foodmill)

Before getting a nice Kitchenaid mixer and the attachment I mentioned in the last step, I prepped the tomatoes by hand each year. Gravy is always better when you make it with others - pictured here are my fellow gravy-makers picking up individual tomatoes and crushing them one at a time into the pot. Both methods involve taking lots of tomatoes and squishing them, so rest assured that they both have the potentially to make a terribly fun mess. It always helps me feel like I've actually done something ;-)

Step 4: Prep the Non-Tomato Parts

Saute onions in olive oil and add the garlic. Stir in the chili flakes and then add the wine. Up the heat until the pot begins to bubble then add the processed tomatoes, either thick, thin, or a mixture.

Step 5: Add the Tomatoes

Add the tomatoes, stir, and let simmer uncovered for at least 15 minutes or until your desired consistency has been reached. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 6: Can It! or Eat It :-)

I make a batch for the whole year and usually give many jars away. Process the jars like typical preserves. A little citric acid stirred in to a jar will help it keep longer. If you made a smaller batch or don't have the supplies to can it, try to use up this deliciousness within a few days to a week.

Any favorite sauce or gravy recipes you use? Or favorite things to put sauce on once you've made it?

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    As an off the boat Italian(60 years ago)...GRAVY???? (facepalm)

    acoens, this was a fun recipe to read and the instructions were easy to follow. I have two questions and that is, once you have bottled your tomato gravy/sauce do you store it on a shelf or in the freezer? Do you use clear wrap to seal the jars first and then put the lids on afterwards or just use the lids by themselves? I am always buying Ragu sauce but I would like to start making my own sauce/gravy and your recipe will be the first that I try. Thanks for the instructable and good luck in the Meal Prep Contest.

    2 replies

    Thanks, warriorethos2! There are some helpful comments from others here that pick up where this Instructable left off - pressure can to ensure the sauce/gravy stays food safe. Have fun making your own!

    Thank you on the clarification. Good luck.

    Thanks, all! I learn so much from this community- keep it coming :-)

    Are you using a water bath or pressure canner when you can this yumminess?

    5 replies

    I use a water bath but just got my first pressure canner, so I'll have to give that a try come this year's tomato season! Do you have a preference?

    It's not a preference, it's canning 'law'. ALWAYS can tomato and/or meat products in a pressure canner. The waterbath method does not remove all bacteria from the acidic tomatoes or meat. If bacteria is in the jars (or the food placed in them) at time of canning, it can lead to spoilage of the food, or food poisoning of the people eating it.
    I am sure your grandmother's sauce is delicious, and I would hate to see it spoil due to unsafe (albeit unknowingly) canning methods.

    Good to know, KristinM5! Your comment just spurred me to do some more reading on the topic. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    acoens, read this as a guide,

    I am really glad this was addressed. This is something many homecanners don't know. Pressure canning has to be done with all vegetables, including tomatoes, and meat. Tomatoes aren't as acidic as in days gone by and some people mistakenly think that because of the acid that tomatoes DO contain that it's enough for a water bath, but it's not. Things have really changed. I love my pressure canner. Good luck. This a good instructable. Good luck!